Guests step over the line and get waterfront hotel hauled before licensing board

Little marker at the Intercontinental Hotel

One toe over the line, sweet Jesus, and that's a potential citation.

Four InterContinental Hotel guests enjoying some wine and mixed drinks one August night decided to stroll the hotel's grounds along Fort Point Channel. But then they went too far - they walked from the hotel's granite walkways onto the bricks of the Harborwalk just as two BPD detectives were arriving for a snap inspection.

Unlike in some other world-class cities, it's illegal to consume alcoholic beverages on public walkways in Boston, so the detectives wrote the hotel up for the violation of Boston licensing rule 1.09D, which requires hotels and other liquor-license holders to keep their guests from taking drinks off their property.

That the guests may have been unaware of rule 1.09D was magnified by the fact the hotel had removed the paper signs warning guests not to leave the well-manicured grass and gray granite walkways because it had been pouring earlier in the evening and paper signs tend to fall apart in the rain, hotel officials told the board at a hearing this morning.

The hotel has since procured small metal signs (see photo above) that can be left out all the time, even when the outdoor bar is closed but guests wander out from inside.

But wait, this whole thing gets even better: The hotel used to have stanchions and ropes to mark off its property and try to corral guests feeling an ineluctable pull to the water's edge, but had to remove them on the orders of state environmental officials. Seems state regulators became concerned the stanchions and ropes could become part of a precedent that would let the hotel and other waterfront property owners slowly take control of the public right to waterfront access along the Harborwalk, hotel officials said, emphasizing that that was never their intent. Local groups also said the stanchions and ropes were blocking public access to areas the hotel had promised to keep public, including the lawns.

In addition to the little metal signs, the hotel now has security guards patrol the water side of the hotel grounds to gently guide any wayward guests back where they belong, officials said.

The licensing board decides Thursday whether any action on its part is required.

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Comments

Honest question...

Is Massachusetts (and Boston specifically here) made any better with these types of laws on the books and police resources dedicated to enforcing them? While on the one hand I find these types of enforcement efforts to be completely ridiculous, I also wouldn't want my street to turn into Mardi Gras on a regular basis.

I have visited plenty of places where one can enjoy an adult beverage on a public way, and those places are not in danger of breaking apart and floating away into the ocean.

Maybe I am not considering some kind of collateral damage? But I suppose the risk of having drunken people on the streets (if that is indeed the risk) is present now since people can simply get drunk somewhere and then walk onto the street.

I don't know. This just seems silly to me. Anyone else?

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Voting is closed. 66

And honestly, these cops

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And honestly, these cops patrolling the walkway, didn't they witness these patrons accidentally cross the invisible line that they didn't know about? They could have saved everyone a lot of trouble by just saying "hey, sorry guys, you have to stay on hotel property."

I know that's the hotel's job, but watching people 24/7 is impossible. This isn't hotel negligence, or party people out of control. It' is likely tourists who now walk away from this experience thinking Boston is so uptight! Geesh.

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Voting is closed. 60

Don't worry, there aren't cops patrolling walkways like that

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The city has three licensing detectives, and part of what they do is random inspections of license holders. Those inspections often result in citations for underage drinkers, bolted or blocked emergency exits, overcrowding and other stuff you probably do want them to find.

Yeah, the violation here doesn't seem like the most egregious thing - Paris, New Orleans and Berlin all seem to survive with public drinking. But do you really want possibly soused guests going right up to the edge of the Harborwalk, where it would be really easy for them to topple over into the channel?

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Voting is closed. 27

And to be fair

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The original intent of the law is not about hotel guests on the harborwalk, but people brown bagging on the sidewalks and other more egregious forms of public intoxication. But it's good that they are keeping said hotel from trying to take over the harborwalk as they have in the past tried to hold events where they rope off the whole area right down to the water's edge, and only reluctantly let the public walk through.

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Voting is closed. 30

>>> But do you really want

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>>> But do you really want possibly soused guests going right up to the edge of the Harborwalk, where it would be really easy for them to topple over into the channel?

What exactly does this do to prevent that? It's not like anyone gets drunk from the drink they're currently holding, you get drunk from the ones you've previously consumed.

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Voting is closed. 27

The last thing I want is for

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The last thing I want is for someone to topple into the channel, especially not a twenty or thirty something dude, because then I'll have to listen to my coworkers whisper about the Charles river killer for like two weeks again

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Voting is closed. 38

Fair points all around

I was not aware of what these particular detectives do on a regular basis. I agree that looking for blocked exits, overcrowding and other dangerous conditions are definitely things we want to prevent.

Only thing I would say about soused (nice usage btw) guests falling into the channel is that drunken people could fall into the channel or walk into traffic, etc. with or without these laws on the books.

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Voting is closed. 8

[Yeah, the violation here

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[Yeah, the violation here doesn't seem like the most egregious thing - Paris, New Orleans and Berlin all seem to survive with public drinking. But do you really want possibly soused guests going right up to the edge of the Harborwalk, where it would be really easy for them to topple over into the channel?

I can't tell if your comment is tongue-in-cheek or not, but in case it isn't... last time I was in Paris (2 months ago) there was plenty of drinking taking place on the Seine abutments, during the day and especially at night. Didn't see anyone taking a swim though except for a few bikeshare bikes. How, just how do these third-rate sh*%holes manage this?

And another point about getting drunk and falling into the channel - what about personal responsibility?

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Voting is closed. 15

It IS hotel negligence

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Specifically, they neglected to inform their guests of the rules, because they didn't think rainproof signs were important until after this citation. Making signs out of metal, or plastic, or painted or even carved wood, isn't some newfangled idea.

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Voting is closed. 26

I have visited plenty of

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I have visited plenty of places where one can enjoy an adult beverage on a public way, and those places are not in danger of breaking apart and floating away into the ocean.

Somalia. Libertarian paradise.

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Voting is closed. 7

What's wrong with stanchions and ropes?

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The hotel used to have stanchions and ropes to mark off its property and try to corral guests feeling an ineluctable pull to the water's edge, but had to remove them on the orders of state environmental officials. Seems state regulators became concerned the stanchions and ropes could become part of a precedent that would let the hotel and other waterfront property owners slowly take control of the public right to waterfront access..

As long as the stanchions and ropes were on hotel property, how would they allow the hotel to take control of public access? Or does the state require the hotel to allow the public to walk, bike, jog, etc. on hotel property as long as they are doing so to access the waterfront? Shouldn't the public have access via public property? Aren't there public accessways?

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Voting is closed. 10

not as simple as you make it sound

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It's not as black and white as 'hotel property' and 'not hotel property'. To oversimplify - in exchange for the right to develop certain areas, the hotels make promises about public access. They then break these promises in various ways, such as blocking access with ropes or stanchions.

For a better explanation, google something like "intercontinental boston public access " or just go here:

https://www.clf.org/blog/boston-public-spaces-arent-really-public/

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Voting is closed. 16

Intercontinental/Harborwalk

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The Boston Harbor Hotel completely takes over the Harborwalk during warm weather months with tables, high tops and even lounging couches. There is a very narrow central "path" through these seating arrangements for pedestrians. Does this hotel have a special arrangement for Harborwalk use? I ask this as a serious question. Am curious to know because over the years they have added more and more and more seating/tables while narrowing pedestrian width. (I pass through on a daily basis for years.)
Also do they pay for use of this "public" walkway or was the right to use it for food and drink somehow included when the hotel was developed?

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Voting is closed. 39

God forbid you try to access "their lawn"

Of course, doing the opposite causes worse problems.

The land in question is public, regardless of what the InterContinental wants everyone to believe. The small fence was as much to keep from getting in as it was to let people out.

After much criticism (within a small group of angry nearby residents), the InterContinental became less aggressive in pushing people out, but no doubt the new "security guards" will make sure those in stay in and those out stay out, rules & regulations be damned.

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Voting is closed. 23